CZ Minutes: Brain Drain

 

Last week on CZ Minutes we discussed whether or not Burn Jita is a net positive or negative for New Eden. This week we discuss something rather more meta. With WoD cancelled, 56 jobs from that team gone and some high profile devs leaving CCP of late including Sreegs, Stillman, Navigator, Soundwave and Unifex, we as Eve players ask if we should be worried about the amount of talent leaving the company?

Xander: Today, 24 hours after CCP announced the cancellation of World of Darkness with the loss of 56 jobs, we had confirmation that former Executive Producer of Eve Online, Jon Lander / CCP Unifex, is to leave CCP. This follows the recent departure of other key CCP devs such as Sreegs, Navigator and Soundwave. Should we as players be concerned about the key talent currently leaving CCP or is this part of the normal ebb and flow of employment within game development companies?

Forlorn: As player it is hard to say what actual influence individuals have on the development of our hated/loved MMO. Most of that work pilots work with probably comes from debs way below the higher payrolls. Currently I would worry if Veritas or Erlendur (CCP name?) leave as well as those two keep the server running. Some people probably would be happy if other long term senior debs would leave CCP. “There will be never more than a handful of Titans” Greyscale for example.

Joran: I think it’s slightly concerning in that CCP seems to be a perennially second rate game developer. It’s inevitable that there is going to be a loss of talent. Although in this particular case Unifex, who was apparently at the Atlanta office with his mobile division, is simply valued particularly highly by the playerbase. It doesn’t seem that he was pulled from CCP so much as caught up in the mess that was WoD. Therefore we’re actually conflating two issues, that of a true brain drain and that of downsizing. I think CCP’s issue is a larger one than simply losing talent. Even still, as gamers I don’t think there’s much to worry about. Eve is the cash cow, and there’s little that will be done in the short term to trim its dominance in CCP’s stable of IP.

wod4640

Niden: The gaming industry is volatile by nature. The recent departures may very well be a natural reflection of that. However it is most disconcerting that I can’t seem to rid myself of the notion that this could be a side effect of the, in my opinion, reckless decision to develop WoD. I honestly cannot understand why you would invest in something like that when you have a distinct and recognized IP like EVE.

Would CCP have kept more people had they invested the money in EVE and the staff that manage and develop it instead of throwing it away on WoD? Of course. Is this me being a smart ass with the benefit of hindsight? Nope, I would have told you the very same thing on the day I heard about CCP’s decision to develop WoD.

I would love to be proven wrong. Unfortunately I don’t think I am.

Forlorn: I wonder if CCP abandoned the mobile project. The last official word from Jon Lander was that he was responsible for it. Did CCP abandon it? I remember how he asked for ideas during the last fanfest and I saw a large amount of good ideas tweeted to him.

Xander: Sure Niden, the game industry is very volatile and fluid but there have been rumours from employer reviewal sites that there is a nepotism rife in CCP that makes it difficult for non-Icelandic personnel to progress in the company. Now I’m not sure how easy this is to believe given the likes of Jon Lander doing so well at CCP but there certainly seems to be something there. Of course, the other side of the argument is that maybe that strong Icelandic core within CCP is what has allowed it to last as long and flourish?

Joran: Nepotism is never a good thing, but I can’t imagine it actually being a problem at CCP. I can’t remember where I read it (I think it was Rise on his interview process) but I do remember someone commenting on the extensive evaluation all the CCP employees go through to make sure they fit with the culture. If you have to speak with and satisfy almost everyone you are going to work with, then it should not be unexpected that there is going to be a particular type of person that works there. I think scorned employees might be taking exception to this and stretching things a bit thin. I’ve only seen them from afar but Icelanders seem like a unique bunch, so it might be hard to break in. Of course this is entirely speculation, so who knows?

Tags: ccp, cz minutes, iceland, wod

About the author

Xander Phoena

The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.


  • SpaceNoob

    Interesting topic given how invested in CCP we all are.

    Niden:”I honestly cannot understand why you would invest in something like that when you have a distinct and recognized IP like EVE”. I’d think that speculative diversification is probably a healthy economic thing to do, as it cutting your losses. Given that CCP have given us one game we love and maybe another in Valkyrie, I was happy to see them attempt to produce something from another unique IP and keep their innovative approach going. Likewise it’s good to see them cut it off if it was just becoming a burden

    I’d also suspect the extensive interview process for outsiders applying for CCP jobs at head office is to make sure they can deal with Iceland itself. You don’t want to waste cash training them up and then watch them go beserk in the quiet and the dark and the cold, going on a cabin fever inspired rage, spewing broiled shark all over the place and lamping people with half a keyboard. A waste of talent and sanity.

  • Saint

    As an programmer of 20+ years experience, I can state first hand that working on someone else’s code that should have been written in a completely different way in the first place, is frustrating, slow and not something you can keep doing indefinitely – You’re never fixing the problem, you’re just shoving layers of bandages on an open wound. From a technical perspective CCP cannot continue to grow Eve based on the single threaded code; It puts a hard cap on the size of fights, what the programmers can fiddle with and that’s just looking at the base “tick” code, before you look at the really complexes messes, such as the alleged POS code. A programmer can only deal with this sort of thing for so long.

    Preferring Icelandic coders is an obvious thing; As mentioned by Xander in episode 41, an Icelandic employee has more motivation for staying in Iceland than a foreigner, such as family and cultural ties.. Its understandable that CCP rewards these employees as they are by far the most likely to remain loyal in the long-term.

  • Pingback: CZ Minutes: Formal Alliances? » Crossing Zebras EVE Online Blog and Podcast()